The Missouri Chamber Education Foundation has commissioned nationally recognized experts in online learning education to conduct a study of the availability and need for expanded virtual learning opportunities in Missouri. The study will be led by the Evergreen Education Group, an independent firm that conducts education research that can be used to lay the groundwork for virtual and blended learning opportunities for schools, districts, and non-profit organizations with a stake in education.
“Expanded online and blended schools and courses could provide options to Missouri students,” said Brian Crouse, vice president of the Missouri Chamber Education Foundation. “Whether students are trapped in failing school districts or are attending a rural district with limited course options, expanded online learning opportunities could help fill gaps that we believe the study will show currently exist in Missouri.”
The study is designed to:
• Analyze online learning platforms that are currently available in Missouri;
• Conduct an extensive survey to measure the demand and identify gaps that could be filled;
• Measure feasibility of programs to provide expanded digital learning to the 65,912 students that currently attend unaccredited or provisionally unaccredited school districts in Missouri; students that attend rural schools with limited course options; gifted students that would benefit from more challenging courses; and students with learning and medical challenges that make attending a traditional school difficult.
Some Missouri students have online and blended learning opportunities, but only if they are able to pay, or are fortunate to live in a district where online learning options are provided. Currently, 30 states allow online public schools to meet their student’s needs. They collectively serve more than 300,000 students across the country. Other states fund state virtual schools to provide collectively, many hundreds of thousands of online courses to students attending local schools.
“Expanded online learning opportunities could be a cost-effective means to bring quality education to Missouri students, no matter where they live,” said Crouse. “We are anxious to see if an implementable strategy can be developed from this study. It is not a complete answer for all education challenges facing our state, but could be a beneficial piece to the puzzle.”
The study is scheduled to be concluded in late January 2014, and could provide important data for student families, educators, school administrators and policymakers.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Education Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Operating Public Foundation for Education Purposes. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Education Foundation provides research and support for education and workforce initiatives. The foundation also provides youth and adult education programs, with a specific focus on leadership skills and the value of free enterprise.